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Oregon bills would increase access to menstrual products

March 16, 2021 GMT

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — Several bills under consideration in the Oregon Legislature would help make menstrual products more readily available, including at schools and to some people who receive government assistance.

Senate Bills 717 and 521 and House Bill 3294 all address menstrual products, The Oregonian/OregonLive reported.

SB 717 would provide $10 per month to people who receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits to “purchase personal hygiene items.” The measure has support from the Oregon Food Bank and Partners for a Hunger-Free Oregon with Matt Newell-Ching, public policy manager for the Oregon Food Bank, calling the investment critical in testimony to lawmakers.

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SB 521 would exempt businesses from paying “commercial activity tax” on sales of period products, diapers, formula and prescription drugs. The tax was passed in 2019 to help Oregon fund education.

The third bill, HB 3294, would require public schools to provide pads and tampons to students at no charge. That bill, called the Menstrual Dignity Act, has more than 15 sponsors.

“This bill is for all our students who have missed school due to lack of menstrual product availability,” said Rep. Ricki Ruiz, D-Gresham, in a press release. “As legislators, we must change our view of our educational systems from school-ready students, to student-ready institutions.”

In 2019, the Legislature passed a law requiring free pads and tampons be made available in adult correctional settings. That law doesn’t include youth facilities.